The Roma Support Group, along with the Traveller Movement and Friends, Families and Travellers, has sent a letter to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, calling for immediate action to ensure Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children are fully supported to return to school after a year's disruption to their education due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read the text of the letter.
See also our video below about the difficulties which children have had keeping up with their school during the pandemic.
Today we join Just Fair and Social Rights Alliance and many others to mark Zero Discrimination Day, highlighting the fundamental principle of non-discrimination.
We know that individuals, or specific groups of individuals, face structural and systemic discrimination. Today, we reflect on the UK’s legal commitments to ensure all people enjoy their rights without discrimination.
Below is a blog by our policy and campaigns worker Mihai Bica, and statements in support of Zero Discrimination Day from our CEO Sylvia Ingmire and campaign partners Just Fair and Social Rights Alliance.
Mihai Bica: “A lifetime of discrimination - what is it like?”
For most people it is hard to conceive something like that is possible. I am glad and happy for all those who don’t have to experience discrimination in their lives. And I hope that this will be the case for more and more of us in the future. But for some, it is not the case yet. Too many of us experience discrimination from birth throughout their whole life. And I am not talking about decades ago. I am talking about now, about 2021, in societies of the present day. A lifetime of discrimination? Read more and I’ll let you draw the conclusions.
The genocide of Roma people during the Second World War, known as the Forgotten Holocaust, aimed for the eradication of Roma people. At least 200,000 died by Nazi hands purely on ethnic grounds. But the process of “controlling” the numbers of Roma has continued long after that.
Forced sterilisation of Roma women was a practice in various European countries that continued well after the Second World War. Sweden is believed to have sterilised about 60,000 Roma women between 1935 and 1976. But in some places, the practice continued until very recently. The last known and documented case comes from the Czech Republic in 2007. Even before Roma children are born, they experience discrimination.
When giving birth, in most East European countries Roma women often receive poor quality support.
Then, when a Roma child is growing up, they are faced with many challenges. Worrying numbers of Roma children are experiencing school segregation, with as many as 45% of schools segregated in some countries, with Roma receiving an inferior form of education. This results in high rates of illiteracy and low levels of education amongst Roma. According to the Fundamental Rights Agency, in 2014, 20% of Roma self-declared as not being able to read or write while the EU average was 1%.
This has a huge impact on the lives of Roma and their futures, including the likelihood of finding employment in a hugely competitive market. By 2014, in the EU, less than one in three Roma were in paid employment. Not long ago, a Roma lady told me: “I have tried everything to get a job: I went to interviews, and I thought, is it because of my scarf and dress? So I had trousers and left the scarf behind but still I was refused the job. I just want a job like everyone else”.
Life beyond that is not easy. In 2016, one in four Roma said they had been discriminated against in the last year and only 10% reported it to authorities. This experience is the same for the adult Roma population living in the UK. The vast majority do not understand what hate crime is, but they say they have experienced it once the definition is explained to them. This happens to us in all areas of life: education, health, employment, access to services, etc.
At least 200,000 Roma have made the UK their home since the fall of the Communist Bloc. As it does for many, the UK offers better opportunities for Roma as well. While adults can gain jobs better and are able to provide for their families, children have access to quality education.
Our parents still carry the experience of discrimination with them and many of our young adults share similar experiences from their childhood. But the younger generation of Roma children in the UK is the hope for our communities. They need to be encouraged, supported to build confidence, to raise their aspirations and to be proud of their ethnicity. This is how they will become successful Roma adults.
On Zero Discrimination Day we must pledge for no discrimination in UK society for the benefit of us all.
Mihai Bica’s blog is also published on http://justfair.org.uk/home/blog/guest-blog/.
Statement from our CEO on Zero Discrimination Day
“Just because of who they are, Roma have been relentlessly persecuted facing expulsions, slavery, genocide, apartheid and social exclusion.
As the lessons from their history have not been learnt, discrimination against Roma continues today.
We can end it together by saying NO to all forms of prejudice and discrimination while creating a more equal, humane and compassionate society.”
Sylvia Ingmire, CEO, Roma Support Group
“Specific groups of people continue to face socio-economic inequality, often because of entrenched historical and contemporary forms of structural and systemic discrimination.
Non-discrimination and equality are fundamental to the exercise and enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights legally obliges the UK to guarantee that economic, social and cultural rights are exercised without discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Today we urge the UK Government to take concrete, deliberate and targeted measures to comply with this immediate and cross-cutting obligation.”
Misha Nayak-Oliver, Campaigns and Advocacy Lead, Just Fair.
Social Rights Alliance
“We believe in the power of experience and the leadership potential of those who know first-hand the effects of social inequality and discrimination.
The support we provide brings together communities to campaign against burning injustices through a rights-based approach. The Social Rights Alliance is rooted in the idea that we should all be able to exercise our rights – the everyday rights we are entitled to which allow us to live in safety and dignity – equally and without discrimination.”
Susanna Hunter-Darch, Social Rights Alliance England Coordinator
The Roma Support Group took part in the Protection Approaches’ “Our Newham” project funded by the Mayor of London’s Young Londoners Fund. ‘Our Newham’ is a two-year project supporting young people in Newham to identify, explore and tackle marginalisation in their communities.
This publication presents incredible works of art created by young people during the first phase of the project. Over eight months a cohort of young people from Newham’s Youth Zones and the Roma Support Group worked with four wonderful artists: Laila Sumpton, Szymon Glowacki, Becky Warnock, and Heather Gani.
During a series of workshops, they explored issues related to prejudice, community, and identity through photography, poetry, painting and sculpture. The artworks in this publication were first exhibited at a special event at Stratford Old Town Hall and then for more than a month in the atrium of the Newham Council Headquarters.
This publication presents the young people’s art, thoughts, and feelings to the wider Newham and London community. It marks the start of a conversation that will take place over the next phase of the project looking at how we can all work together, whatever our age, background, profession, or belief to develop community approaches to confronting marginalisation and celebrating all our identities.
In collaboration with the East London Advanced Technology Training (ELATT), the Roma Support Group are creating a series of free online ESOL (English for Students of Foreign Languages) classes which will cover important important issues such as how to protect yourself and others during this coronavirus period, access to financial subsidies during this period, how to succeed at a job interviews and more!
You can now watch our first video lesson of a four-parts video lesson on coronavirus.
Stay tuned for future updates!
Roma Support Group’s Financial Inclusion Project helps Roma people by providing advice and advocacy on issues such as benefits, debt and housing.
We need volunteers to help us do this work. Our volunteers play an important role helping with things like giving advice, translating appointments and materials, and carrying out administrative tasks.
If you have strong communication skills and enjoy problem solving, join us and use your skills to make a difference!
We are particularly interested to hear from people who are confident communicating in English and an Eastern European language such as Polish, Romanian, Slovakian, Hungarian or Czech. As a Roma organisation, we are always pleased to welcome Roma volunteers.
You will be provided with full training and ongoing support.
If you are interested in helping us and want to find out more, please email email@example.com.
To celebrate Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month 2020 we are holding an art competition for young people aged between six and eighteen years old. We are looking for examples of any kind of artworks to promote Roma culture and celebrate its richness and diversity. It could be a drawing, picture, poem, audio recording on a mobile phone or a short video showing young people playing music, dancing or singing.
There will be prizes for the best entries and all the artworks we receive will be featured in an online exhibition and posted on our social media (Twitter and Facebook) and website and included in a short video collage.
How to enter our art competition
Please see our posters in English, Polish and Romanian (pdf files). Entries should be received by Sunday 7th June. Please send the artwork to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to complete our registration form (this is available as a Word document or as a pdf file) and to send this to us with your entry.
Following the work of our "Roma Stories": Roma Oral History Project we are pleased to say that our new Roma Oral History website has now been launched. You will find interview extracts and introductory information and learning materials for primary schools.
If you would like to work with children, why not gain some hands-on experience while making a positive difference to young Roma people?
During these difficult times while schools are closed, it is extremely important that young people stay in education, do their homework and have fun.
Are you good at maths, literacy or maybe science? Is art your forte?
The Aspiration Project is looking for volunteers, who could support online learning of Roma children and young people.
For more info please get in touch with Szymon: email@example.com
Please see the posters below explaining how to access Roma Support Group support and appointments during the period of disruption because of COVID-19/Coronavirus.
Phone number to book appointments:
We provide support in the following areas:
See a larger version of this poster on our Contact page.
Roma Support Group Oral History Project Co-ordinator Tania Gessi has had an article published in a recent (27th January 2020) issue of the newspaper Jewish News.
Entitled "Roma and Sinti voices silent for too long" it appears on page 43 of issue number 1142. Read it here.
See our 'Roma Stories' page for further information about our Oral History Project
It is with great sadness that we say farewell to our friend and colleague Andy Shallice who passed away on 14th December, 2019. He worked for the Roma Support Group as the Policy and Information Worker, joining us in 2013. We have lost a great, passionate advocate for Roma rights and social justice. He will be missed by all of us.
We have put together a tribute to Andy's work.
At his funeral, in memory of Andy, "The Manchester Rambler" was sung. Andy's family have kindly allowed us to share a recording of the singing by those who attended.
(Click back button in your browser to return to the RSG site).
"Roma Stories" Project's work collecting wartime testimonies of Roma people is mentioned on BBC World News
The BBC World Service's World Update programme broadcast on 18th November included a feature on the Nazi genocide of Roma and Sinti people in an interview with Senior Curator of the Wiener Holocaust Library, Barbara Warnock. She speaks about the work being done by the Roma Support Group's "Roma Stories" Oral History Project in collecting testimonies of Roma people's experiences in the wartime concentration camps.
The Roma Support Group is pleased to invite you to 21st Annual General Meeting:
If you would like to join us please e-mail your name and contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org in order to confirm your place on the participants' list.
Please confirm your attendance by Wednesday 20th November.
5.00 pm - Registration – Networking – Refreshments
5.30 pm - Street /Gang Violence Awareness Workshop delivered by Derek Akosah CEO, Be Heard As One
6.00 pm - Housing Rights Workshop delivered Tower Hamlets Law Centre
6.30 pm - Forum Theatre
7.10 pm - Safe Newham – Hate Crime Reporting Project
7.20 pm - Jack Petchey Foundation's Awards
7.40 pm - ‘Roma Stories’, Oral History Project Exhibition and Film
8.00 pm - BREAK
8.15 pm - AGM Business:
9:30 pm - THE END
Venue detail and travel information
Woodgrange Community Centre, Bluebell Avenue, Manor Park, London E12 6UJ
Nearest Tube – East Ham Nearest Overground - Manor Park and Woodgrange Park
Google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/Wvm8hkKZbqgcNDEm8
Our 'Roma Stories' Oral History exhibition will be at the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) from 28th October to 1st November. There will be launch events on Monday 18th November at 3pm at the LMA and on Tuesday 26th November at the Wiener Library.
The exhibition will appear at the following venues in Autumn 2019:
Print out copies of our exhibition poster here (pdf file). See the poster below.
For more information please contact email@example.com.
This short film contains extracts of Roma people's interviews that explore life before the Second World War, persecution during the war, discrimination in home country, migration and life in the UK. The film is part of the touring exhibition.
When? - Thursday 14 November 2019, 5.15-7.15pm
Where? - Laws Building Room 1.00, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Campus, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS
All welcome, no need to book
Speakers: Tania Gessi and Ted Sale, Roma Stories Oral History Project
Respondents: Graham Smith (Newcastle University), Becky Taylor (University of East Anglia), Julia Laite (Birkbeck)
Chair: Nadia Valman, Raphael Samuel History Centre
The HLF-funded ‘Roma Stories’ Oral History Project shares experiences and stories of Roma people from Eastern and Central Europe who live in London. A series of orally transmitted histories focus on the Roma genocide in the Second World War (the Forgotten Holocaust), life in postwar communist countries, why and how individuals and families migrated to the UK. They tell us how Roma identity is perceived, how it is changing, how people experience living in London and how they belong here. Throughout the ages, Roma people’s experience has often been marginalised or written out of history altogether. This project has captured a plethora of Roma voices, which reflect the varied nature of human experience of one Europe’s most discriminated ethnic minorities.
Convened by the Raphael Samuel History Centre, this seminar will present findings from the project, followed by responses from scholars in oral history and Roma studies.
Come and join the launch of the Roma Support Group's Roma Stories exhibition at Stratford Library on 20th September!
The exhibition will run at Stratford Library from 13th September until 11th October, and later at other venues across London.
The Roma Support Group announces a free exhibition, launching in September 2019 to share the work of the ‘Roma Stories’ Oral History Project. The project explores the experiences and stories of Roma people from Eastern and Central Europe who live in London. It focuses on the key themes of: Roma persecution during the Second World War (Roma Holocaust), life in post-war communist countries, migration to the UK, Roma identity, and feelings of belonging in the UK.
The project has been produced through cooperation between Roma researchers, local community members, volunteers, the London Metropolitan Archives, museums and academic institutions in order to explore, archive and share the unrecorded stories of Roma refugees and migrants in London.
The exhibition will include extracts from interviews, rarely seen archive photographs (courtesy of the Robert Dawson Collection), a video, and artwork by Roma artist Robert Czibi.
The Roma ‘voice’ has often been marginalised, ‘hidden’ or written out of mainstream historical narratives due to discrimination and racism. Made possible by funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, this project has presented a rare opportunity to record Roma history, which has been passed down across generations orally, before it is lost.
Notes to editors:
For further information, images and interviews please contact Tania Gessi at the Roma Support Group on 07905859012 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brexit means that EU nationals living in the UK will have to apply to be able to stay here, with full rights of residence. This is called the “EU Settlement Scheme”. Our Guide to the EU Settlement Scheme gives help on what you need to do if you are a EU national living in the UK. See our Roma and Brexit page and click on the first of the four headings "Our Guide to the EU Settlement Scheme".
The Mayor of London and London Assembly have launched a special hub for Londoners who are EU citizens giving them guidance on securing settled status in the UK when Brexit comes into force.
The Home Office/UK Visas and Immigration have also launched a document, "Settled status for citizens and their families", giving similar guidance in European languages.
Any future documents giving help and advice to European citizens wanting to secure settled status will be added to our special Roma and Brexit page.
Training on Working with East European Roma in Safeguarding Context: Thursday, March 14th - 10% off early booking before 3rd February!
The Roma Support Group would like to invite you to attend a full-day training course on Working with East European Roma in Safeguarding Context. This will take place on Thursday, March 14th from 10am to 4pm at a venue in Central London.
The Roma Support Group is a major contributor to Roma and Brexit, a recently-published report on the future for Roma in post-Brexit UK. The report, from the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) and Migration Joint All Party Parliamentary Groups, is the result of discussions at a roundtable event at the House of Lords on 11 July 2018. The event was co-ordinated by the Roma Support Group.
Roma living in the UK have a huge contribution to make to society and they greatly value living here, working here and being part of the UK community. Yet this is not always understood and recognised. Furthermore, uncertainties about the future status of EU nationals in the UK are a cause for considerable uncertainty among members of the Roma community. We hope that this initial report will be of interest to policy makers in this regard.
Read the full text of the report.
See further information about Brexit and Roma on our Brexit Information and Brexit statements pages.
Item added 11/7/2018
Roma Support Group staff, volunteers, friends, families and travellers were recently invited to celebrate Gypsy/Roma/Travellers History Month with a historical tour of the House of Lords.
On Monday, 25 June 2018, Lord Beecham hosted a House of Lords tour for around fifteen young Roma, Gypsies and Travellers.
The Roma Support Group would like to say a huge thank you to Lord Beecham for giving us all this great opportunity.
Item added 22/6/2018
We are currently looking for a volunteer who can help with our Advice and Advocacy Project, someone to support everyday running of the project including 1-to-1 advocacy sessions, workshops and our Forum theatre sessions.
Please see further information about this opportunity on our Volunteering page.
If you would like to do rewarding work with an organisation who works hard to support marginalised members of our society please get in touch!
This item added 27/6/2018
In November 2017 the Roma Support Group (RSG) made a submission to the Parliamentary Women and Equalities Select Committee (WESC). This was in response to the results of the Race Disparity Audit originally launched by the Prime Minister to look into racial disparities in public service provision with a view to ending the injustices experienced by many people.
Read the text of the RSG submission here
Read a transcript of the meeting WESC where the RSG’s oral evidence was discussed (20th December 2017)
View video footage of the meeting WESC where the RSG’s oral evidence was discussed (20th December 2017)
This item added 6/3/2018
Many Roma families think that England offers opportunities to young Roma which are denied in the country of their birth but Roma children’s experience of attending school can be difficult.
A new report, produced by the Roma Support Group with the support of Barrow Cadbury Trust, looks at extensive evidence which indicates that Roma pupils are excluded from some English schools.
See the full text of the report.
This item added 21/10/2017
We are holding a full day’s training course on Roma Cultural Awareness on Tuesday 10th July 2018.
*There is a 10% saving on bookings made before 31st May 2018*
This is what a previous attendee had to say about the training:
“As a result of this training I am planning to promote a Roma intervention programme in order to improve understanding of Roma culture and the needs of the Roma community and to reduce crime.”
– Metropolitan Police officer
Where and when?
Central London (full location details will be sent to you on receipt of your booking)
Tuesday 10th July 2018, 10 am – 4 pm (registration starts at 9.30 am
How do I book?
If you want to attend this training it is essential to book.
Fill in our booking form (Word document) and email it to us at email@example.com.
Commercial sector: £170
Public and Charity sector: £130
Small charities (maximum 5 paid staff): £100
Independent professionals: £100
*There is a 10% saving on bookings made before 31st May 2018*